Poems by Charlotte Brontė

Writer, born sunday april 21, 1816 in Thornton, Bradford (United Kingdom), died saturday march 31, 1855 in Haworth, West Yorkshire (United Kingdom)
You can find this author also in Quotes & Aphorisms and in Novels.

Evening Solace

The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed; ­
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame's or Wealth's illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.

But, there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart's best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
a tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish,
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.

And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back­a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others'sufferings seem.
Oh! When the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie!

And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress­
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven,
Seeking a life and world to come.
Charlotte Brontė
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    If thou be in a lonely place,
    If one hour's calm be thine,
    As Evening bends her placid face
    o'er this sweet day's decline;
    If all the earth and all the heaven
    Now look serene to thee,
    As o'er them shuts the summer even,
    One moment­think of me!

    Pause, in the lane, returning home;
    'Tis dusk, it will be still:
    Pause near the elm, a sacred gloom
    Its breezeless boughs will fill.
    Look at that soft and golden light,
    High in the unclouded sky;
    Watch the last bird's belated flight,
    As it flits silent by.

    Hark! For a sound upon the wind,
    a step, a voice, a sigh;
    If all be still, then yield thy mind,
    Unchecked, to memory.
    If thy love were like mine, how blest
    That twilight hour would seem,
    When, back from the regretted Past,
    Returned our early dream!

    If thy love were like mine, how wild
    Thy longings, even to pain,
    For sunset soft, and moonlight mild,
    To bring that hour again!
    But oft, when in thine arms I lay,
    I've seen thy dark eyes shine,
    And deeply felt, their changeful ray
    Spoke other love than mine.

    My love is almost anguish now,
    It beats so strong and true;
    'Twere rapture, could I deem that thou
    Such anguish ever knew.
    I have been but thy transient flower,
    Thou wert my God divine;
    Till, checked by death's congealing power,
    This heart must throb for thine.

    And well my dying hour were blest,
    If life's expiring breath
    Should pass, as thy lips gently prest
    My forehead, cold in death;
    And sound my sleep would be, and sweet,
    Beneath the churchyard tree,
    If sometimes in thy heart should beat
    One pulse, still true to me.
    Charlotte Brontė
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      Pilate's Wife's Dream

      I've quenched my lamp, I struck it in that start
      Which every limb convulsed, I heard it fall­
      The crash blent with my sleep, I saw depart
      Its light, even as I woke, on yonder wall;
      Over against my bed, there shone a gleam
      Strange, faint, and mingling also with my dream.

      It sunk, and I am wrapt in utter gloom;
      How far is night advanced, and when will day
      Retinge the dusk and livid air with bloom,
      And fill this void with warm, creative ray ?
      Would I could sleep again till, clear and red,
      Morning shall on the mountain-tops be spread!

      I'd call my women, but to break their sleep,
      Because my own is broken, were unjust;

      They've wrought all day, and well-earned slumbers steep
      Their labours in forgetfulness, I trust;
      Let me my feverish watch with patience bear,
      Thankful that none with me its sufferings share.

      Yet, Oh, for light ! one ray would tranquilise
      My nerves, my pulses, more than effort can;
      I'll draw my curtain and consult the skies:
      These trembling stars at dead of night look wan,
      Wild, restless, strange, yet cannot be more drear
      Than this my couch, shared by a nameless fear.

      All black­one great cloud, drawn from east to west,
      Conceals the heavens, but there are lights below;
      Torches burn in Jerusalem, and cast
      On yonder stony mount a lurid glow.
      I see men stationed there, and gleaming spears;
      A sound, too, from afar, invades my ears.

      Dull, measured, strokes of axe and hammer ring
      From street to street, not loud, but through the night
      Distinctly heard­and some strange spectral thing
      Is now upreared­and, fixed against the light
      Of the pale lamps; defined upon that sky,
      It stands up like a column, straight and high.

      I see it all­I know the dusky sign­
      A cross on Calvary, which Jews uprear

      While Romans watch; and when the dawn shall shine
      Pilate, to judge the victim will appear,
      Pass sentence­yield him up to crucify;
      And on that cross the spotless Christ must die.

      Dreams, then, are true­for thus my vision ran;
      Surely some oracle has been with me,
      The gods have chosen me to reveal their plan,
      To warn an unjust judge of destiny:
      I, slumbering, heard and saw; awake I know,
      Christ's coming death, and Pilate's life of woe.

      I do not weep for Pilate­who could prove
      Regret for him whose cold and crushing sway
      No prayer can soften, no appeal can move;
      Who tramples hearts as others trample clay,
      Yet with a faltering, an uncertain tread,
      That might stir up reprisal in the dead.

      Forced to sit by his side and see his deeds;
      Forced to behold that visage, hour by hour,
      In whose gaunt lines, the abhorrent gazer reads
      A triple lust of gold, and blood, and power;
      A soul whom motives, fierce, yet abject, urge
      Rome's servile slave, and Judah's tyrant scourge.

      How can I love, or mourn, or pity him ?
      I, who so long my fettered hands have wrung;

      I, who for grief have wept my eye-sight dim;
      Because, while life for me was bright and young,
      He robbed my youth­he quenched my life's fair ray­
      He crushed my mind, and did my freedom slay.

      And at this hour­although I be his wife­
      He has no more of tenderness from me
      Than any other wretch of guilty life;
      Less, for I know his household privacy­
      I see him as he is­without a screen;
      And, by the gods, my soul abhors his mien !

      Has he not sought my presence, dyed in blood­
      Innocent, righteous blood, shed shamelessly ?
      And have I not his red salute withstood ?
      Aye,­when, as erst, he plunged all Galilee
      In dark bereavement­in affliction sore,
      Mingling their very offerings with their gore.

      Then came he­in his eyes a serpent-smile,
      Upon his lips some false, endearing word,
      And, through the streets of Salem, clanged the while,
      His slaughtering, hacking, sacrilegious sword­
      And I, to see a man cause men such woe,
      Trembled with ire­I did not fear to show.

      And now, the envious Jewish priests have brought
      Jesus­whom they in mockery call their king­

      To have, by this grim power, their vengeance wrought;
      By this mean reptile, innocence to sting.
      Oh ! could I but the purposed doom avert,
      And shield the blameless head from cruel hurt!

      Accessible is Pilate's heart to fear,
      Omens will shake his soul, like autumn leaf;
      Could he this night's appalling vision hear,
      This just man's bonds were loosed, his life were safe,
      Unless that bitter priesthood should prevail,
      And make even terror to their malice quail.

      Yet if I tell the dream­but let me pause.
      What dream ? Erewhile the characters were clear,
      Graved on my brain­at once some unknown cause
      Has dimmed and rased the thoughts, which now appear,
      Like a vague remnant of some by-past scene;­
      Not what will be, but what, long since, has been.

      I suffered many things, I heard foretold
      A dreadful doom for Pilate,­lingering woes,
      In far, barbarian climes, where mountains cold
      Built up a solitude of trackless snows,
      There, he and grisly wolves prowled side by side,
      There he lived famished­there methought he died;

      But not of hunger, nor by malady;
      I saw the snow around him, stained with gore;

      I said I had no tears for such as he,
      And, lo ! my cheek is wet­mine eyes run o'er;
      I weep for mortal suffering, mortal guilt,
      I weep the impious deed­the blood self-spilt.

      More I recall not, yet the vision spread
      Into a world remote, an age to come­
      And still the illumined name of Jesus shed
      A light, a clearness, through the enfolding gloom­
      And still I saw that sign, which now I see,
      That cross on yonder brow of Calvary.

      What is this Hebrew Christ ? To me unknown,
      His lineage­doctrine­mission­yet how clear,
      Is God-like goodness, in his actions shewn !
      How straight and stainless is his life's career !
      The ray of Deity that rests on him,
      In my eyes makes Olympian glory dim.

      The world advances, Greek, or Roman rite
      Suffices not the inquiring mind to stay;
      The searching soul demands a purer light
      To guide it on its upward, onward way;
      Ashamed of sculptured gods­Religion turns
      To where the unseen Jehovah's altar burns.

      Our faith is rotten­all our rites defiled,
      Our temples sullied, and methinks, this man,
      With his new ordinance, so wise and mild,
      Is come, even as he says, the chaff to fan

      And sever from the wheat; but will his faith
      Survive the terrors of to-morrow's death ?

      * * * * *

      I feel a firmer trust­a higher hope
      Rise in my soul­it dawns with dawning day;
      Lo ! on the Temple's roof­on Moriah's slope
      Appears at length that clear, and crimson ray,
      Which I so wished for when shut in by night;
      Oh, opening skies, I hail, I bless your light !

      Part, clouds and shadows ! glorious Sun appear !
      Part, mental gloom ! Come insight from on high !
      Dusk dawn in heaven still strives with daylight clear,
      The longing soul, doth still uncertain sigh.
      Oh ! to behold the truth­that sun divine,
      How doth my bosom pant, my spirit pine !

      This day, time travails with a mighty birth,
      This day, Truth stoops from heaven and visits earth,
      Ere night descends, I shall more surely know
      What guide to follow, in what path to go;
      I wait in hope­I wait in solemn fear,
      The oracle of God­the sole­true God­to hear.
      Charlotte Brontė
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        Some have won a wild delight,
        By daring wilder sorrow;
        Could I gain thy love to-night,
        I'd hazard death to-morrow.

        Could the battle-struggle earn
        One kind glance from thine eye,
        How this withering heart would burn,
        The heady fight to try!

        Welcome nights of broken sleep,
        And days of carnage cold,
        Could I deem that thou wouldst weep
        To hear my perils told.

        Tell me, if with wandering bands
        I roam full far away,
        Wilt thou, to those distant lands,
        In spirit ever stray?

        Wild, long, a trumpet sounds afar;
        Bid me­bid me go
        Where Seik and Briton meet in war,
        On Indian Sutlej's flow.

        Blood has dyed the Sutlej's waves
        With scarlet stain, I know;
        Indus'borders yawn with graves,
        Yet, command me go!

        Though rank and high the holocaust
        Of nations, steams to heaven,
        Glad I'd join the death-doomed host,
        Were but the mandate given.

        Passion's strength should nerve my arm,
        Its ardour stir my life,
        Till human force to that dread charm
        Should yield and sink in wild alarm,
        Like trees to tempest-strife.

        If, hot from war, I seek thy love,
        Darest thou turn aside?
        Darest thou, then, my fire reprove,
        By scorn, and maddening pride?

        No­my will shall yet control
        Thy will, so high and free,
        And love shall tame that haughty soul­
        Yes­tenderest love for me.

        I'll read my triumph in thine eyes,
        Behold, and prove the change;
        Then leave, perchance, my noble prize,
        Once more in arms to range.

        I'd die when all the foam is up,
        The bright wine sparkling high;
        Nor wait till in the exhausted cup
        Life's dull dregs only lie.

        Then Love thus crowned with sweet reward,
        Hope blest with fulness large,
        I'd mount the saddle, draw the sword,
        And perish in the charge!
        Charlotte Brontė
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          On The Death Of Anne Brontė

          There's little joy in life for me,
          And little terror in the grave;
          I've lived the parting hour to see
          Of one I would have died to save.

          Calmly to watch the failing breath,
          Wishing each sigh might be the last;
          Longing to see the shade of death
          o'er those beloved features cast.

          The cloud, the stillness that must part
          The darling of my life from me;
          And then to thank God from my heart,
          To thank Him well and fervently;

          Although I knew that we had lost
          The hope and glory of our life;
          And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,
          Must bear alone the weary strife.
          Charlotte Brontė
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            Another stranger guest:
            He calls­I come­my pulse scarce beats,
            My heart fails in my breast.
            Again that voice­how far away,
            How dreary sounds that tone!
            And I, methinks, am gone astray
            In trackless wastes and lone.

            I fain would rest a little while:
            Where can I find a stay,
            Till dawn upon the hills shall smile,
            And show some trodden way?
            ' I come! I come! ' in haste she said,
            ' 'Twas Walter's voice I heard! '
            Then up she sprang­but fell back, dead,
            His name her latest word.
            Charlotte Brontė
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              She will not sleep, for fear of dreams,
              But, rising, quits her restless bed,
              And walks where some beclouded beams
              Of moonlight through the hall are shed.

              Obedient to the goad of grief,
              Her steps, now fast, now lingering slow,
              In varying motion seek relief
              From the Eumenides of woe.

              Wringing her hands, at intervals­
              But long as mute as phantom dim­
              She glides along the dusky walls,
              Under the black oak rafters, grim.

              The close air of the grated tower
              Stifles a heart that scarce can beat,
              And, though so late and lone the hour,
              Forth pass her wandering, faltering feet;

              And on the pavement, spread before
              The long front of the mansion grey,
              Her steps imprint the night-frost hoar,
              Which pale on grass and granite lay.

              Not long she stayed where misty moon
              And shimmering stars could on her look,
              But through the garden arch-way, soon
              Her strange and gloomy path she took.

              Some firs, coeval with the tower,
              Their straight black boughs stretched o'er her head,
              Unseen, beneath this sable bower,
              Rustled her dress and rapid tread.

              There was an alcove in that shade,
              Screening a rustic-seat and stand;
              Weary she sat her down and laid
              Her hot brow on her burning hand.

              To solitude and to the night,
              Some words she now, in murmurs, said;
              And, trickling through her fingers white,
              Some tears of misery she shed.

              ' God help me, in my grievous need,
              God help me, in my inward pain;
              Which cannot ask for pity's meed,
              Which has no license to complain;

              Which must be borne, yet who can bear,
              Hours long, days long, a constant weight­
              The yoke of absolute despair,
              a suffering wholly desolate?

              Who can for ever crush the heart,
              Restrain its throbbing, curb its life?
              Dissemble truth with ceaseless art,
              With outward calm, mask inward strife? '

              She waited­as for some reply;
              The still and cloudy night gave none;
              Erelong, with deep-drawn, trembling sigh,
              Her heavy plaint again begun.

              ' Unloved­I love; unwept­I weep;
              Grief I restrain­hope I repress:
              Vain is this anguish­fixed and deep;
              Vainer, desires and dreams of bliss.

              My love awakes no love again,
              My tears collect, and fall unfelt;
              My sorrow touches none with pain,
              My humble hopes to nothing melt.

              For me the universe is dumb,
              Stone-deaf, and blank, and wholly blind;
              Life I must bound, existence sum
              In the strait limits of one mind;

              That mind my own. Oh! Narrow cell;
              Dark­imageless­a living tomb!
              There must I sleep, there wake and dwell
              Content, with palsy, pain, and gloom. '

              Again she paused; a moan of pain,
              a stifled sob, alone was heard;
              Long silence followed­then again,
              Her voice the stagnant midnight stirred.

              ' Must it be so? Is this my fate?
              Can I nor struggle, nor contend?
              And am I doomed for years to wait,
              Watching death's lingering axe descend?

              And when it falls, and when I die,
              What follows? Vacant nothingness?
              The blank of lost identity?
              Erasure both of pain and bliss?

              I've heard of heaven­I would believe;
              For if this earth indeed be all,
              Who longest lives may deepest grieve,
              Most blest, whom sorrows soonest call.

              Oh! Leaving disappointment here,
              Will man find hope on yonder coast?
              Hope, which, on earth, shines never clear,
              And oft in clouds is wholly lost.

              Will he hope's source of light behold,
              Fruition's spring, where doubts expire,
              And drink, in waves of living gold,
              Contentment, full, for long desire?

              Will he find bliss, which here he dreamed?
              Rest, which was weariness on earth?
              Knowledge, which, if o'er life it beamed,
              Served but to prove it void of worth?

              Will he find love without lust's leaven,
              Love fearless, tearless, perfect, pure,
              To all with equal bounty given,
              In all, unfeigned, unfailing, sure?

              Will he, from penal sufferings free,
              Released from shroud and wormy clod,
              All calm and glorious, rise and see
              Creation's Sire­Existencč God?

              Then, glancing back on Time's brief woes,
              Will he behold them, fading, fly;
              Swept from Eternity's repose,
              Like sullying cloud, from pure blue sky?

              If so­endure, my weary frame;
              And when thy anguish strikes too deep,
              And when all troubled burns life's flame,
              Think of the quiet, final sleep;

              Think of the glorious waking-hour,
              Which will not dawn on grief and tears,
              But on a ransomed spirit's power,
              Certain, and free from mortal fears.

              Seek now thy couch, and lie till morn,
              Then from thy chamber, calm, descend,
              With mind nor tossed, nor anguish-torn,
              But tranquil, fixed, to wait the end.

              And when thy opening eyes shall see
              Mementos, on the chamber wall,
              Of one who has forgotten thee,
              Shed not the tear of acrid gall.

              The tear which, welling from the heart,
              Burns where its drop corrosive falls,
              And makes each nerve, in torture, start,
              At feelings it too well recalls:

              When the sweet hope of being loved,
              Threw Eden sunshine on life's way;
              When every sense and feeling proved
              Expectancy of brightest day.

              When the hand trembled to receive
              a thrilling clasp, which seemed so near,
              And the heart ventured to believe,
              Another heart esteemed it dear.

              When words, half love, all tenderness,
              Were hourly heard, as hourly spoken,
              When the long, sunny days of bliss,
              Only by moonlight nights were broken.

              Till drop by drop, the cup of joy
              Filled full, with purple light, was glowing,
              And Faith, which watched it, sparkling high,
              Still never dreamt the overflowing.

              It fell not with a sudden crashing,
              It poured not out like open sluice;
              No, sparkling still, and redly flashing,
              Drained, drop by drop, the generous juice.

              I saw it sink, and strove to taste it,
              My eager lips approached the brim;
              The movement only seemed to waste it,
              It sank to dregs, all harsh and dim.

              These I have drank, and they for ever
              Have poisoned life and love for me;
              a draught from Sodom's lake could never
              More fiery, salt, and bitter, be.

              Oh! Love was all a thin illusion;
              Joy, but the desert's flying stream;
              And, glancing back on long delusion,
              My memory grasps a hollow dream.

              Yet, whence that wondrous change of feeling,
              I never knew, and cannot learn,
              Nor why my lover's eye, congealing,
              Grew cold, and clouded, proud, and stern.

              Nor wherefore, friendship's forms forgetting,
              He careless left, and cool withdrew;
              Nor spoke of grief, nor fond regretting,
              Nor even one glance of comfort threw.

              And neither word nor token sending,
              Of kindness, since the parting day,
              His course, for distant regions bending,
              Went, self-contained and calm, away.

              Oh, bitter, blighting, keen sensation,
              Which will not weaken, cannot die,
              Hasten thy work of desolation,
              And let my tortured spirit fly!

              Vain as the passing gale, my crying;
              Though lightning-struck, I must live on;
              I know, at heart, there is no dying
              Of love, and ruined hope, alone.

              Still strong, and young, and warm with vigour,
              Though scathed, I long shall greenly grow,
              And many a storm of wildest rigour
              Shall yet break o'er my shivered bough.

              Rebellious now to blank inertion,
              My unused strength demands a task;
              Travel, and toil, and full exertion,
              Are the last, only boon I ask.

              Whence, then, this vain and barren dreaming
              Of death, and dubious life to come?
              I see a nearer beacon gleaming
              Over dejection's sea of gloom.

              The very wildness of my sorrow
              Tells me I yet have innate force;
              My track of life has been too narrow,
              Effort shall trace a broader course.

              The world is not in yonder tower,
              Earth is not prisoned in that room,
              'Mid whose dark pannels, hour by hour,
              I've sat, the slave and prey of gloom.

              One feeling­turned to utter anguish,
              Is not my being's only aim;
              When, lorn and loveless, life will languish,
              But courage can revive the flame.

              He, when he left me, went a roving
              To sunny climes, beyond the sea;
              And I, the weight of woe removing,
              Am free and fetterless as he.

              New scenes, new language, skies less clouded,
              May once more wake the wish to live;
              Strange, foreign towns, astir, and crowded,
              New pictures to the mind may give.

              New forms and faces, passing ever,
              May hide the one I still retain,
              Defined, and fixed, and fading never,
              Stamped deep on vision, heart, and brain.

              And we might meet­time may have changed him;
              Chance may reveal the mystery,
              The secret influence which estranged him;
              Love may restore him yet to me.

              False thought­false hope­in scorn be banished!
              I am not loved­nor loved have been;
              Recall not, then, the dreams scarce vanished,
              Traitors! Mislead me not again!

              To words like yours I bid defiance,
              'Tis such my mental wreck have made;
              Of God alone, and self-reliance,
              I ask for solace­hope for aid.

              Morn comes­and ere meridian glory
              o'er these, my natal woods, shall smile,
              Both lonely wood and mansion hoary
              I'll leave behind, full many a mile.
              Charlotte Brontė
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                Above the city hangs the moon,
                Some clouds are boding rain,
                Gilbert, erewhile on journey gone,
                To-night comes home again.
                Ten years have passed above his head,
                Each year has brought him gain;
                His prosperous life has smoothly sped,
                Without or tear or stain.

                'Tis somewhat late­the city clocks
                Twelve deep vibrations toll,
                As Gilbert at the portal knocks,
                Which is his journey's goal.
                The street is still and desolate,
                The moon hid by a cloud;
                Gilbert, impatient, will not wait, ­
                His second knock peals loud.

                The clocks are hushed; there's not a light
                In any window nigh,
                And not a single planet bright
                Looks from the clouded sky;
                The air is raw, the rain descends,
                a bitter north-wind blows;
                His cloak the traveller scarce defends­
                Will not the door unclose?

                He knocks the third time, and the last;
                His summons now they hear,
                Within, a footstep, hurrying fast,
                Is heard approaching near.
                The bolt is drawn, the clanking chain
                Falls to the floor of stone;
                And Gilbert to his heart will strain
                His wife and children soon.

                The hand that lifts the latchet, holds
                a candle to his sight,
                And Gilbert, on the step, beholds
                a woman, clad in white.
                Lo! Water from her dripping dress
                Runs on the streaming floor;
                From every dark and clinging tress,
                The drops incessant pour.

                There's none but her to welcome him;
                She holds the candle high,
                And, motionless in form and limb,
                Stands cold and silent nigh;
                There's sand and sea-weed on her robe,
                Her hollow eyes are blind;
                No pulse in such a frame can throb,
                No life is there defined.

                Gilbert turned ashy-white, but still
                His lips vouchsafed no cry;
                He spurred his strength and master-will
                To pass the figure by, ­
                But, moving slow, it faced him straight,
                It would not flinch nor quail:
                Then first did Gilbert's strength abate,
                His stony firmness quail.

                He sank upon his knees and prayed;
                The shape stood rigid there;
                He called aloud for human aid,
                No human aid was near.
                An accent strange did thus repeat
                Heaven's stern but just decree:
                ' The measure thou to her didst mete,
                To thee shall measured be! '

                Gilbert sprang from his bended knees,
                By the pale spectre pushed,
                And, wild as one whom demons seize,
                Up the hall-staircase rushed;
                Entered his chamber­near the bed
                Sheathed steel and fire-arms hung­
                Impelled by maniac purpose dread,
                He chose those stores among.

                Across his throat, a keen-edged knife
                With vigorous hand he drew;
                The wound was wide­his outraged life
                Rushed rash and redly through.
                And thus died, by a shameful death,
                a wise and worldly man,
                Who never drew but selfish breath
                Since first his life began.
                Charlotte Brontė
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                  Not in scorn do I reprove thee,
                  Not in pride thy vows I waive,
                  But, believe, I could not love thee,
                  Wert thou prince, and I a slave.
                  These, then, are thine oaths of passion?
                  This, thy tenderness for me?
                  Judged, even, by thine own confession,
                  Thou art steeped in perfidy.
                  Having vanquished, thou wouldst leave me!
                  Thus I read thee long ago;
                  Therefore, dared I not deceive thee,
                  Even with friendship's gentle show.
                  Therefore, with impassive coldness
                  Have I ever met thy gaze;
                  Though, full oft, with daring boldness,
                  Thou thine eyes to mine didst raise.
                  Why that smile? Thou now art deeming
                  This my coldness all untrue, ­
                  But a mask of frozen seeming,
                  Hiding secret fires from view.
                  Touch my hand, thou self-deceiver,
                  Nay­be calm, for I am so:
                  Does it burn? Does my lip quiver?
                  Has mine eye a troubled glow?
                  Canst thou call a moment's colour
                  To my forehead­to my cheek?
                  Canst thou tinge their tranquil pallor
                  With one flattering, feverish streak?
                  Am I marble? What! No woman
                  Could so calm before thee stand?
                  Nothing living, sentient, human,
                  Could so coldly take thy hand?
                  Yes­a sister might, a mother:
                  My good-will is sisterly:
                  Dream not, then, I strive to smother
                  Fires that inly burn for thee.
                  Rave not, rage not, wrath is fruitless,
                  Fury cannot change my mind;
                  I but deem the feeling rootless
                  Which so whirls in passion's wind.
                  Can I love? Oh, deeply­truly­
                  Warmly­fondly­but not thee;
                  And my love is answered duly,
                  With an equal energy.
                  Wouldst thou see thy rival? Hasten,
                  Draw that curtain soft aside,
                  Look where yon thick branches chasten
                  Noon, with shades of eventide.
                  In that glade, where foliage blending
                  Forms a green arch overhead,
                  Sits thy rival thoughtful bending
                  o'er a stand with papers spread­
                  Motionless, his fingers plying
                  That untired, unresting pen;
                  Time and tide unnoticed flying,
                  There he sits­the first of men!
                  Man of conscience­man of reason;
                  Stern, perchance, but ever just;
                  Foe to falsehood, wrong, and treason,
                  Honour's shield, and virtue's trust!
                  Worker, thinker, firm defender
                  Of Heaven's truth­man's liberty;
                  Soul of iron­proof to slander,
                  Rock where founders tyranny.
                  Fame he seeks not­but full surely
                  She will seek him, in his home;
                  This I know, and wait securely
                  For the atoning hour to come.
                  To that man my faith is given,
                  Therefore, soldier, cease to sue;
                  While God reigns in earth and heaven,
                  I to him will still be true!
                  Charlotte Brontė
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                    Arranging long-locked drawers and shelves
                    Of cabinets, shut up for years,
                    What a strange task we've set ourselves!
                    How still the lonely room appears!
                    How strange this mass of ancient treasures,
                    Mementos of past pains and pleasures;
                    These volumes, clasped with costly stone,
                    With print all faded, gilding gone;

                    These fans of leaves, from Indian trees­
                    These crimson shells, from Indian seas­
                    These tiny portraits, set in rings­
                    Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things;
                    Keepsakes bestowed by Love on Faith,
                    And worn till the receiver's death,
                    Now stored with cameos, china, shells,
                    In this old closet's dusty cells.

                    I scarcely think, for ten long years,
                    a hand has touched these relics old;
                    And, coating each, slow-formed, appears,
                    The growth of green and antique mould.

                    All in this house is mossing over;
                    All is unused, and dim, and damp;
                    Nor light, nor warmth, the rooms discover­
                    Bereft for years of fire and lamp.

                    The sun, sometimes in summer, enters
                    The casements, with reviving ray;
                    But the long rains of many winters
                    Moulder the very walls away.

                    And outside all is ivy, clinging
                    To chimney, lattice, gable grey;
                    Scarcely one little red rose springing
                    Through the green moss can force its way.

                    Unscared, the daw, and starling nestle,
                    Where the tall turret rises high,
                    And winds alone come near to rustle
                    The thick leaves where their cradles lie.

                    I sometimes think, when late at even
                    I climb the stair reluctantly,
                    Some shape that should be well in heaven,
                    Or ill elsewhere, will pass by me.

                    I fear to see the very faces,
                    Familiar thirty years ago,
                    Even in the old accustomed places
                    Which look so cold and gloomy now.

                    I've come, to close the window, hither,
                    At twilight, when the sun was down,
                    And Fear, my very soul would wither,
                    Lest something should be dimly shown.

                    Too much the buried form resembling,
                    Of her who once was mistress here;
                    Lest doubtful shade, or moonbeam trembling,
                    Might take her aspect, once so dear.

                    Hers was this chamber; in her time
                    It seemed to me a pleasant room,
                    For then no cloud of grief or crime
                    Had cursed it with a settled gloom;

                    I had not seen death's image laid
                    In shroud and sheet, on yonder bed.
                    Before she married, she was blest­
                    Blest in her youth, blest in her worth;
                    Her mind was calm, its sunny rest
                    Shone in her eyes more clear than mirth.

                    And when attired in rich array,
                    Light, lustrous hair about her brow,
                    She yonder sat­a kind of day
                    Lit up­what seems so gloomy now.
                    These grim oak walls, even then were grim;
                    That old carved chair, was then antique;
                    But what around looked dusk and dim
                    Served as a foil to her fresh cheek;
                    Her neck, and arms, of hue so fair,
                    Eyes of unclouded, smiling, light;
                    Her soft, and curled, and floating hair,
                    Gems and attire, as rainbow bright.

                    Reclined in yonder deep recess,
                    Ofttimes she would, at evening, lie
                    Watching the sun; she seemed to bless
                    With happy glance the glorious sky.
                    She loved such scenes, and as she gazed,
                    Her face evinced her spirit's mood;
                    Beauty or grandeur ever raised
                    In her, a deep-felt gratitude.

                    But of all lovely things, she loved
                    a cloudless moon, on summer night;
                    Full oft have I impatience proved
                    To see how long, her still delight
                    Would find a theme in reverie.
                    Out on the lawn, or where the trees
                    Let in the lustre fitfully,
                    As their boughs parted momently,
                    To the soft, languid, summer breeze.
                    Alas! That she should e'er have flung
                    Those pure, though lonely joys away­
                    Deceived by false and guileful tongue,
                    She gave her hand, then suffered wrong;
                    Oppressed, ill-used, she faded young,
                    And died of grief by slow decay.

                    Open that casket­look how bright
                    Those jewels flash upon the sight;
                    The brilliants have not lost a ray
                    Of lustre, since her wedding day.
                    But see­upon that pearly chain­
                    How dim lies time's discolouring stain!
                    I've seen that by her daughter worn:
                    For, e'er she died, a child was born;
                    a child that ne'er its mother knew,
                    That lone, and almost friendless grew;
                    For, ever, when its step drew nigh,
                    Averted was the father's eye;
                    And then, a life impure and wild
                    Made him a stranger to his child;
                    Absorbed in vice, he little cared
                    On what she did, or how she fared.
                    The love withheld, she never sought,
                    She grew uncherished­learnt untaught;
                    To her the inward life of thought
                    Full soon was open laid.
                    I know not if her friendlessness
                    Did sometimes on her spirit press,
                    But plaint she never made.

                    The book-shelves were her darling treasure,
                    She rarely seemed the time to measure
                    While she could read alone.
                    And she too loved the twilight wood,
                    And often, in her mother's mood,
                    Away to yonder hill would hie,
                    Like her, to watch the setting sun,
                    Or see the stars born, one by one,
                    Out of the darkening sky.
                    Nor would she leave that hill till night
                    Trembled from pole to pole with light;
                    Even then, upon her homeward way,
                    Long­long her wandering steps delayed
                    To quit the sombre forest shade,
                    Through which her eerie pathway lay.

                    You ask if she had beauty's grace?
                    I know not­but a nobler face
                    My eyes have seldom seen;
                    a keen and fine intelligence,
                    And, better still, the truest sense
                    Were in her speaking mien.
                    But bloom or lustre was there none,
                    Only at moments, fitful shone
                    An ardour in her eye,
                    That kindled on her cheek a flush,
                    Warm as a red sky's passing blush
                    And quick with energy.
                    Her speech, too, was not common speech,
                    No wish to shine, or aim to teach,
                    Was in her words displayed:
                    She still began with quiet sense,
                    But oft the force of eloquence
                    Came to her lips in aid;
                    Language and voice unconscious changed,
                    And thoughts, in other words arranged,
                    Her fervid soul transfused
                    Into the hearts of those who heard,
                    And transient strength and ardour stirred,
                    In minds to strength unused.
                    Yet in gay crowd or festal glare,
                    Grave and retiring was her air;
                    'Twas seldom, save with me alone,
                    That fire of feeling freely shone;
                    She loved not awe's nor wonder's gaze,
                    Nor even exaggerated praise,
                    Nor even notice, if too keen
                    The curious gazer searched her mien.
                    Nature's own green expanse revealed
                    The world, the pleasures, she could prize;
                    On free hill-side, in sunny field,
                    In quiet spots by woods concealed,
                    Grew wild and fresh her chosen joys,
                    Yet Nature's feelings deeply lay
                    In that endowed and youthful frame;
                    Shrined in her heart and hid from day,
                    They burned unseen with silent flame;
                    In youth's first search for mental light,
                    She lived but to reflect and learn,
                    But soon her mind's maturer might
                    For stronger task did pant and yearn;
                    And stronger task did fate assign,
                    Task that a giant's strength might strain;
                    To suffer long and ne'er repine,
                    Be calm in frenzy, smile at pain.

                    Pale with the secret war of feeling,
                    Sustained with courage, mute, yet high;
                    The wounds at which she bled, revealing
                    Only by altered cheek and eye;

                    She bore in silence­but when passion
                    Surged in her soul with ceaseless foam,
                    The storm at last brought desolation,
                    And drove her exiled from her home.

                    And silent still, she straight assembled
                    The wrecks of strength her soul retained;
                    For though the wasted body trembled,
                    The unconquered mind, to quail, disdained.

                    She crossed the sea­now lone she wanders
                    By Seine's, or Rhine's, or Arno's flow;
                    Fain would I know if distance renders
                    Relief or comfort to her woe.

                    Fain would I know if, henceforth, ever,
                    These eyes shall read in hers again,
                    That light of love which faded never,
                    Though dimmed so long with secret pain.

                    She will return, but cold and altered,
                    Like all whose hopes too soon depart;
                    Like all on whom have beat, unsheltered,
                    The bitter blasts that blight the heart.

                    No more shall I behold her lying
                    Calm on a pillow, smoothed by me;
                    No more that spirit, worn with sighing,
                    Will know the rest of infancy.

                    If still the paths of lore she follow,
                    'Twill be with tired and goaded will;
                    She'll only toil, the aching hollow,
                    The joyless blank of life to fill.

                    And oh! Full oft, quite spent and weary,
                    Her hand will pause, her head decline;
                    That labour seems so hard and dreary,
                    On which no ray of hope may shine.

                    Thus the pale blight of time and sorrow
                    Will shade with grey her soft, dark hair
                    Then comes the day that knows no morrow,
                    And death succeeds to long despair.

                    So speaks experience, sage and hoary;
                    I see it plainly, know it well,
                    Like one who, having read a story,
                    Each incident therein can tell.

                    Touch not that ring, 'twas his, the sire
                    Of that forsaken child;
                    And nought his relics can inspire
                    Save memories, sin-defiled.

                    I, who sat by his wife's death-bed,
                    I, who his daughter loved,
                    Could almost curse the guilty dead,
                    For woes, the guiltless proved.

                    And heaven did curse­they found him laid,
                    When crime for wrath was rife,
                    Cold­with the suicidal blade
                    Clutched in his desperate gripe.

                    'Twas near that long deserted hut,
                    Which in the wood decays,
                    Death's axe, self-wielded, struck his root,
                    And lopped his desperate days.

                    You know the spot, where three black trees,
                    Lift up their branches fell,
                    And moaning, ceaseless as the seas,
                    Still seem, in every passing breeze,
                    The deed of blood to tell.

                    They named him mad, and laid his bones
                    Where holier ashes lie;
                    Yet doubt not that his spirit groans,
                    In hell's eternity.

                    But, lo! Night, closing o'er the earth,
                    Infects our thoughts with gloom;
                    Come, let us strive to rally mirth,
                    Where glows a clear and tranquil hearth
                    In some more cheerful room.
                    Charlotte Brontė
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